News: “Fighting Fifth” celebrates 95th birthday in Afghanistan
Story by Cpl. Alfred V. Lopez
CAMP DWYER, Afghanistan – The 5th Marine Regiment is considered the most highly decorated regiment in the United States Marine Corps.
Since it’s activation in 1917, the “Fighting Fifth,” the regiment’s nickname earned in the battlefields of Western Europe during World War I, has valiantly answered America’s call to arms for 95 years.
Marines and sailors of Regimental Combat Team 5 celebrated the regiment’s 95th birthday, and honored those who have served before them, during a ceremony here, June 11, 2012.
“Fifth Marines is a really special place, not only because of the Marines and sailors assigned to it, but also because we all know for a fact that we walk on the footsteps of giants of men,” said Col. Roger B. Turner, the commanding officer of RCT-5.
Much like the brave heroes who fought and sacrificed their lives before them, today’s Marines and sailors of RCT-5 continue to uphold the regiment’s tradition of honor and sacrifice in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
“Personally, this has been really meaningful to me,” said Turner. “I’ve served about ten years of my career with Fifth Marines and I’ve truly loved every minute of it.”
“In the last several years, during our involvement in Afghanistan, the regiment has marked down new places to add to our [history], like Marjah, Nawa, Sangin, Musa Qala, and Reg-e Khan Neshin,” Turner added.
The following entry is an abridged version of the regiment’s history, taken from the official website of the 5th Marines.
Prior to U.S. force’s deployment to France in WW I, 5th Marines was activated in Philadelphia in June 1917. So fierce were its efforts in Belleau Wood and subsequent victories, the French government awarded the regiment the Croix de Guerre with two palms and one gilt star. Today, each Marine serving in the regiment also wears the French fourragere on the left shoulder of his uniform to recognize the legacy and valor of his predecessors.
In June 1920, after a brief deactivation, the regiment was reactivated to guard the delivery of U.S. mail against domestic bandits. While they were on the job, not one Marine was killed and not one piece of mail was lost to thieves.
After further service in the U.S. and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the “Fighting Fifth” deployed to New Zealand in 1942 as part of the U.S. Pacific Campaign against Japan. Throughout the course of World War II, the regiment further distinguished itself in action at Guadalcanal, Eastern New Guinea, Peleliu and Okinawa.
After occupation duty in North China and Guam in post-war years, 5th Marines relocated to its current home in Camp Pendleton, Calif., in August 1950.
The regiment fought in the grounds of the Pusan Perimeter, Inchon, Seoul, and the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War. From 1966-1971, the regiment found itself in the Republic of South Vietnam, where Marines added the names Rung Sat, Chu Lai, Phu Bai, Hue, Khe Sahn, An Hoa, Tam Ky, and Da Nang to the regiment’s long list of distinguished battle actions.
In August 1990, the nation once again called on the “Fighting Fifth,” this time to support Operation Desert Shield. While serving with the largest amphibious task force since WW II, Regimental Landing Team 5 disembarked in support of Operation Desert Storm and the liberation of Kuwait in February 1991.
The “Fighting Fifth” deployed to Kuwait in January 2003 to take part in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The regiment became the first unit to cross the line of departure into Iraq as it moved to seize the Rumayllah oilfieds. RCT-5 also served back-to-back deployments in support of OIF in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, from February 2006 to January 2009.
In August 2011, RCT-5 arrived in southern Helmand, where its Marines and sailors serve as the ground combat element. RCT-5 currently works in partnership with Afghan National Security Forces and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations in Garmsir, Khan Neshin, Marjah and Nawa districts.
“Every major conflict that the regiment has been part of has included the host nation’s forces, the [U.S.] Army, Navy, and Air Force, and other partner nation’s forces,” said Turner. “We celebrated not only our birthday today, but also another team effort and very worthwhile cause that we’ve come together for.”
The regiment’s day-to-day operations are dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance in southern Helmand.
“Whether our men stay in for four years or forty, they will always know that they came to Afghanistan, fought with the Fifth Marines and made a difference here,” said Turner. “The work we have done here has driven the enemies of America and Afghanistan from this land, and has given the Afghans a true opportunity to live their lives in peace.”
Editor’s note: RCT-5 is assigned to 1st Marine Division (Forward), which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Forces and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.